The recently introduced notion of Finite-Time Lyapunov Exponent to characterize Coherent Lagrangian Structures provides a powerful framework for the visualization and analysis of complex technical flows. Its definition is simple and intuitive, and it has a deep theoretical foundation. While the application of this approach seems straightforward in theory, the associated computational cost is essentially prohibitive. Due to the Lagrangian nature of this technique, a huge number of particle paths must be computed to fill the space-time flow domain. In this paper, we propose a novel scheme for the adaptive computation of FTLE fields in two and three dimensions that significantly reduces the number of required particle paths. Furthermore, for three-dimensional flows, we show on several examples that meaningful results can be obtained by restricting the analysis to a well-chosen plane intersecting the flow domain. Finally, we examine some of the visualization aspects of FTLE-based methods and introduce several new variations that help in the analysis of specific aspects of a flow.